Alibi V.24 No.50 • Dec 10-16, 2015 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Turkey

The latest twist in the bizarre case of a man accused of insulting the Turkish president via an online meme now finds a “committee of experts” being assembled to assess whether the fictional character of Golem in The Lord of the Rings is good or bad. Bilgin Ciftci, a physician living in Aydin, faces up to two years in prison for allegedly insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by juxtaposing pictures of the politician and Gollum on social media. Ciftci has already been expelled from the Public Health Institution of Turkey for sharing the pictures. Cifitci’s lawyer, Hicran Danisman, told the Associated Press late last month she was forced to argue in court that “Gollum is not a bad character” because she got “nowhere” defending her client based on freedom of expression. Danisman said her new argument has prompted the judge to rule that a committee—including two academics, two behavioral scientists or psychologists and a television and cinema expert—should now provide an assessment of Gollum’s character. The trial is scheduled to resume on Feb. 23.

Dateline: Australia

Police in a small, harborside suburb of Sydney responding to a report of domestic violence pressed an evasive perpetrator for answers and eventually turned up a victim—in the form of a dead spider. The Harbourside Local Area Command in New South Wales posted a transcript of the conversation that took place after officers confronted a “flushed” and “out of breath” suspect at an apartment in Wollstonecraft. Sometime before 2am on Saturday, Nov. 21, neighbors reported sounds of a man shouting, “I’m going to kill you” and a “woman screaming hysterically.” After responding police asked the whereabouts of his wife, the homeowner said he didn’t have one. He denied having a girlfriend as well. The man insisted he lived alone. When officers pressed him, saying neighbors heard death threats, sounds of furniture being flung around the apartment and a high-pitched screaming, the “sheepish” man explained, “It was a spider. A really big one.” Asked about the sounds of a woman screaming, the man admitted, “Yeah, sorry, that was me. I really, really hate spiders.” Just to be sure, officers searched the trashed apartment and turned up a can of Mortein bug spray and the corpse of a “rather large” arachnid. After “a very long pause and some laughter” the officers left.

Dateline: England

A high school in Liverpool held a funeral after learning their science classroom skeleton was made of real human bones. Students and faculty at Haydock High School held a burial service after “Arthur,” the class skeleton, was determined to be real as opposed to plastic. Arthur spent more than 50 year shuttling between the science and art departments at Haydock before ending up in storage. “Arthur meant a lot to us in an educational way,” one student told the Liverpool Echo. “Even though he was in the corner, he still helped me learn.” Sandra Morris, a youth pastor for of Christ Church United RC, said the ceremony was done in traditional Christian fashion due to the religious affiliation of the school. The ceremony also “gave note to” traditional Hindu practices, as the skeleton most like came from India. “We wanted to recognize that, in both religions, the soul moves on and the body is an empty vessel although his spirit will have left a long time ago,” Morris said.

Dateline: California

A would-be house burglar who got stuck in a chimney for nearly a day died after the residents lit a fire in their fireplace. A spokesperson for the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said the county coroner had identified the burglar as 19-year-old Cody Caldwell. The cause of death was smoke inhalation and thermal burns. According to The Fresno Bee, the sheriff’s department received a 911 call just before 3pm on Saturday, Nov. 28. The male homeowner told deputies he heard screams coming from inside the house after lighting a fire. Smoke then began to fill up the residence. Once the homeowner realized someone was actually stuck inside the chimney, he extinguished the fire. Deputies and firefighters had to dismantle the chimney to free Caldwell. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators believe Caldwell attempted to break into the home on the night of Nov. 27 and remained stuck inside the chimney all day.

Dateline: Pennsylvania

Environmental officials are at a loss to explain why the town of New Castle smells like cat pee. The New Castle News says it’s been a year since residents reported a “noxious, cat urine-like odor.” But a recently released State Department of Environmental Protection report has come back as “inconclusive.” Based on “observations made during compliance investigations and accounts told to the department,” the DEP determined that a waste product containing mesityl oxide or other similar compound reacted with a sulfur compound “under specific conditions somewhere in the city’s sewer system.” Although it’s believed that interaction could have caused the acrid smell, and its introduction into the sewer system might have allowed it to distribute throughout the town, the DEP report admitted, “No specific industry or waste stream could be identified as the exact cause of the odor.”

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. Email your weird news to devin@alibi.com.